Recently one of my freelance posts for SheKnows got a lot of attention and was picked up by Yahoo. The blog post was a personal topic, Teen Pregnancy, and something I know a lot about. The post was in response to a request for articles writing about how some women struggle with Motherhood in time for the Mother's Day holiday.
When I was first notified that it was doing very well and that I should be proud of my work, I was elated and rushed to the post to view it for myself. What I wasn't prepared for, and looking back at it now I should have been, was the very personal negative comments in response not to the writing, but to the fact that I chose to tell my true story about MY teen pregnancy.
I've said it before, people like to talk smack on the internet. This was no different.
However this is also what I learned from the many comments, there are some really good people out there willing to stand up to bullies. There was also so much love and kindness outpoured, that it outweighed the negative.
When I first read some of the negativity, honestly I took it personal. It felt like I was 17 again and trying to take the hits without tears.
You see, the comments made on the internet in response to MY choice to keep my baby and own up to my life riled people up.
“Certainly one can empathize with the situation but sadly, there can be no sympathy from me. The author chose to keep the baby and such were the consequences of that choice. ”
That one was really interesting to me. The idea that it was probably better for me to abort my baby and pretend that it never happened appears to be the better than choosing to work hard, stand up to responsibility and make a new plan that included college, careers, and getting the chance to know and love one of the best human beings because I didn't think of him as a “choice” or a “consequence.”
One comment that was later removed because of it's nature said that no girl who gets herself pregnant deserves any “special treatment” and she gets what she gets because she chose to get pregnant and was selfish not to give up a healthy baby.
I was amused by the idea that any young woman struggling with making the choice about not only her body but the life of her unborn and the future of many lives is actually considering if they will get “special treatment” from others. Yes, I have seen some of the teen mother shows and I have seen local teens who have embraced that idea of becoming young mothers. But I guarantee you that when they were sitting there for those first few days or weeks staring at that pregnancy test, they were suddenly not thinking of how good their lives would be and looking forward to baby showers. In those moments there is fear, depression, wishing you could go back and change your mind.
Here is the best part of writing this article; people are actually talking about their experiences. Mothers of all ages and stories are talking about their experiences, talking about what worked for them and what didn't. THAT is the reason I wrote my story.
One of my favorite comments was the one from Deanna D. “Better to put your pain on paper and to use it to bring awareness that could help another girl than to keep it bottled up. The shame belongs to the trolls of society who treated her that way. I am glad someone is talking about what happens to young pregnant girls. And what is still happening in many parts of the US where the stigma is strong. ”
I really thought hard about putting my story out there. For many years I struggled with the stigma of being labeled a “teen mother” and even though I worked hard, put my child first, learned how to embrace motherhood so much that my husband I adopted other children and I can't imagine a life without a houseful, I rarely tell my story.
The stigma of being a “teen mother” is hard to let go of. Even now when I tell a new friend about the ages of my children, I get some weird looks and even some comments made about “You were YOUNG!” and sometimes I smile and sometimes I let people assume that I am older that I look. But the fact is, I am exactly who I am today because of the choices I made throughout my life, not just that choice to keep my son.
I love how Deanna put it. “Better to put your pain on paper” and that is exactly why some writers, like myself, choose to rip out pieces of themselves and share it with the world. Many of us have incredible stories to tell, some so fantastic that it is hard to believe they are real.
I remember reading about Oprah Winfrey's life and the things she went through as a young girl and thinking those terrible things that happened are so hard to believe because she is so amazing and done so much with her life. And that is the point of sharing your dark secrets, to shine the light on the lives of people that you think have never seen the darkness so that perhaps there might be one person out there who is also struggling or has been through their own nightmare moments and they might look on your words and see that their moment too will pass.
Real life isn't always pretty. Real life is sometimes filled with more dramatic stories, monsters, and sometimes real Princes or Princesses who not only can save themselves but reach to help others as well.
Thank you to everyone who took the moment to read the article and a special thanks to all you who wrote a comment. For even in the darkest moment, the negative comments, there were so many bright and shining souls who shared their love and reached out to embrace my story, embrace that scared girl of 1990 who thought she didn't matter.
To those who were Mothers by choice, Mothers by surprise, Mothers of children who need a place to call home, you are part of my Motherhood Community.
Happy Mother's Day to all of you!